Pray for Cincinnati

Let us pray for those killed and injured in another senseless shooting rampage. When will it end? Apparently they are still trying to find out why it happened. Let us pray that it is not terrorist activity.

Praying for London

Another senseless disregard for human life has occurred in London, England, right outside the Parliament building. People were run over by a car, shots being fired while all of this was going on. Then a police officer was stabbed outside the building. The perpetrator was shot, unknown if killed. Let us pray for all those affected. Let us pray for the people of London and all in Great Britain. Motive not known at this time, but is being treated as a terrorist attack. More to come when available.

Trying to start again!

Haven’t been at this in a couple of years, but will try to start blogging again. Can’t say how often!

News Briefs, Jan. 10

Catholic News Service is the official news agency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is their News Briefs for Friday, January 10.

Reflections on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

The Mass Readings from USCCB

Why was Jesus baptized, anyway? Why would God choose to get baptized? He certainly didn’t need what it is that baptism gives to a person. When you were baptized, three changes happened to you. First of all, the Original sin that you inherited from Adam and Eve was washed away. But this cleaning out of your soul was only so that God could put back in your soul what he intended to have dwell inside every person. In other words, this second change is more important than the first. This second change is God’s giving you the grace—the spiritual strength—to follow Jesus through this world.

As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today, what we are celebrating is a path that Jesus is making clear to us. This path is a path to freedom in our lives. Jesus certainly had no need to be baptized since He never committed any sin, and was never marked by Original Sin. But then again, Jesus never had to die on the Cross, either. Jesus did nothing in His life on this earth because He had to. He did everything freely. He did not hang upon the Cross because He was guilty of anything. He allowed Himself to be hanged on the Cross in order to take away the sins of the world, including your sins and mine.

Jesus did not have to be baptized, but He was baptized in order to demonstrate to us the first step on the path to salvation. Baptism is, so to speak, the “door of the Church”: when we pass through that door, we become members of the Church, and accept the responsibility of being a Christian, which in one phrase means accepting the call—the vocation—to holiness.

Accepting “the call to holiness” is what being a Christian means. Every Christian is called to be holy. Every Christian has a vocation, in fact, to be a “saint,” since the words “saint” and “holy” literally mean the same thing.

And yet, not every Christian is called to be holy in the same way. Every Christian is called to the waters of Baptism. But not every Christian lives out that vocation of holiness in the same way. Some Christians are called by God to the particular vocation of marriage; others, to the particular vocations of a religious order as a brother or sister; others, to the particular vocation of the single life; others, to the particular vocation of Holy Orders.

Each of these particular vocations reaches out into the world in a different way, and yet each of them flows from the same waters of Baptism. All of them demonstrate—in complementary ways—that the call to holiness means walking a path towards ever-greater holiness, towards a deeper share in the life of God.

Catholic Diocese of Wichita

Off to Rome

Tomorrow I travel to Italy, spending time in Assisi and Rome, with a briefer stay in Florence. I will try to update you with posts, but can’t guarantee it, especially since I am leading a group. Please pray for the safety of the group. I will be remembering you in my Masses, especially those at the Tomb of St. Francis, and the Tomb/Altar of Blessed Pope John Paul II. Can’t hardly wait to actually see Pope Francis!

The Concho Padre

Reflections for Dec. 30

Today’s Readings from USCCB

“There was a prophetess, Anna …” Luke

The prophetess Anna rates just one mention in Luke as she thanks God for the birth of Jesus and tells people at the Temple about his importance. I love this passage because I resonate to its 84-year-old heroine.

Picture the Temple that day as a stately, wrinkled, white-haired woman with kind eyes pronounces her great news. Even men who normally would pay little attention to a woman can’t ignore Anna because of the palpable wisdom that her well-lived, long life has bestowed. Even her name is fitting: Anna, meaning “grace” or “favor.”

It’s especially easy for me to conjure up images of the Biblical Anna because I grew up with a wise old woman who shared her name, my Great Aunt Anna or “Aunt Annie” as everyone called her.

Aunt Annie prayed mostly in a little farmhouse, not the Temple, but she was devout in her own cock-eyed fashion, conversing regularly with God. She’d read the Bible and comment on Old Testament stories that reminded her of her beloved murder mysteries.

Like the Biblical Anna, Aunt Annie saw wonder and hope in children. Remembering how she would defend us to our male elders, it’s easy to envision Anna speaking authoritatively about the child to skeptical men in the Temple. Magnificent women, both, I’m sure!

One thing we notice in the New Testament is that God sometimes uses obscure people such as Anna to announce great news, like the significance of this child. We sense that they represent us, especially when they remind us of people we know.

So today I thank St. Luke for shining light on the beauty and wisdom of such people, especially those who happen to be older women. I hope that today’s Gospel also evokes joyful memories of the “Annas” and “Aunt Annies” in your own lives.

Happy New Year!!!!!

Eileen Wirth
Creighton University

News Briefs, Dec. 27

Catholic News Service is the official news agency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Read their News Briefs for Friday, Dec. 27.

Prospects for the New Year in the Vatican

Here is the Vatican Letter from Catholic News Service.

Feast of the Holy Family

Holy Family Readings from USCCB

When I was a young wife and mother, I could never find the time to pray. Each day was so full and with each passing year our schedule as a family grew more demanding. How could I get the laundry done? How could I find time to pray?

I finally realized that no one ever came into the laundry room, and the peace of that room was the perfect place to pray. As I sorted laundry, I prayed for each person in my family while folding pajamas, school uniform blouses and an endless number of socks. My prayers and my spirituality were shaped in that laundry room, and I have always connected doing the family laundry with prayer.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, remembering how Jesus grew up in the normal busy-ness of family life, how he was shaped as a person by both Mary and Joseph.

Pope Francis wrote in his recent exhortation that the family is “where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another.” That very belonging to each other is what today’s readings are about.

In the first reading, Sirach entreats parents and children to love and honor each other. When one generation can no longer care for the other, he calls us to “take care of your father when he is old … even if his mind fails, be considerate of him.” He adds the care we give for the elderly “will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt” of our own failings.

Our lives are complicated and families don’t always consist of two parents. But Paul’s letter to the Colossians offers all of us the tools we need to care for each other: . I can guess that Paul was intimately connected with family as he notes other important family skills, like “bearing with one another” which seems like an apt phrase on the harder days. When we share a home, we not only have to forgive each other, but to be aware that we need forgiveness from each other, prompted by the example of God’s deeply loving forgiveness for us all.

The Gospel is Matthew’s story of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt in fear of Herod, who was searching for their son. The left their homeland and lived in a country they did not know, with languages and customs not their own, separated from their family. When they could finally return to Israel, fear of Herod’s successor forced them to go not home, but to Galilee, where they would be less likely to be found.

But despite the stress of their situation, I picture them as holding onto each other even more closely. That seems to be our human reaction to tragedy – we want to gather our loved ones together and hold onto each other. Even with the people who drive us crazy. But they are family and they belong to us and we belong to them; because family is not about perfection but fidelity. As Pope Francis says about families, “We remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to ‘bear one an­other’s burdens.’”

He says when a parent speaks to a child, the parent “becomes small,” crouching down to eye level and speaking in a softer, different voice. He says, “Someone looking in from the outside might think, ‘This is ridiculous!’” and yet parents do it “because the love of a father and mother needs to be close.” He says God comes to us in the same “small” way of a parent, speaking to our fears with gentle love, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, I’m here.”

Being part of a family means being faithful to our everyday lives, to loving each other on our best and worst days, and to remembering the sacredness of even the pile of socks, overflowing in the laundry room.

Maureen McCann Waldron
Creighton University